The Adam S is the third variation of Opel's boutique light hatchback to land on our shores, after the standard Adam and Adam Rocks crossover. It’s the sportiest Adam currently available and ushers in a new engine and some neat little upgrades to enhance the handling and appearance.
The go faster bits
The exterior of the Opel Adam S has had the compulsory sporty upgrade to match its S badging. Adornments that make the S model special include red brake calipers, bulging side skirts and the lip on the front bumper, while at the rear, there’s a sports bumper and an enlarged, chrome-finished exhaust tip. The rear roof spoiler is arguably the most obvious cosmetic upgrade and the wheel size has been increased to 18-inches.
As for the interior, the Adam S gains some extremely supportive and comfortable bucket seats, a red gear knob and an S badge on the dashboard. It doesn’t sound like much, but the upgrades make the Adam S feel more special than its siblings. The newcomer's specification list is the same as the Jam's, so there's a good complement of connectivity- and safety equipment. Opel offers the advanced park assist system, which can park the Adam S for you. as standard.
The Adam S uses a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with outputs of 110 kW and 200 Nm. The beefier motor hasn’t made the S a lightning fast hot hatch, but there’s enough grunt to satisfy burgeoning driving enthusiasts. Zero to 100 kph takes 8.5 seconds, but what really makes the Adam S fun is its handling characteristics. The engineers have tinkered with the Adam's suspension and anti-roll bar to make the S handle better in the bends.
The Adam S's springs are stiffer (as are the anti-roll bars) and the brakes have been enlarged. The brakes were plucked from the now-discontinued Corsa OPC and work well on track. During our track sessions, the Adam S’s brakes held up surprisingly well considering the constant hammering they took at the Aldo Scribante circuit. The handling is agile; it changes direction quickly. It was fun to hustle around the track and even after multiple laps we were still finding lap-time improvements. The stopwatches came out and we were set a benchmark of 1m22.0 by ex-production car driver Grant McCleery. With a session to learn the track in the morning, the Adam S had its neck properly wrung in the afternoon as we went in search of faster lap times. We didn't have a chance to test the Adam S on road conditions, but I imagine the stiffer springs and bigger wheels may make it quite harsh on our rugged roads.
The Opel Adam S is a limited edition vehicle (there are only 50 cars available in SA) and exclusivity comes at a price, R330 000. It's expensive when you consider that it's not actually much car for your money... The boot is small and it only has two doors, but if you want a peppy fashion accessory then the pricing seems on par. The Mini Cooper S starts at R376 847 and a Citroen DS3 Sport is R358 400. The only cheaper competitor is the Alfa Romeo Mito at R322 990, although the hot QV version costs R347 990. The Adam S comes with a 5-year/120 000 km warranty and a 3-year/60 000 km service plan.